Archive for the ‘Human Resources Management’ Category

7 Time Hacks for Productivity

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

work performanceYou’re busy, I mean, “there’s just not enough time in my day to get anywhere near what I wanted to accomplished,” and now you have to run errands, make dinner, take the dog out and finish the laundry all before falling asleep with your laptop in bed (again). In a world so preoccupied with time, here are 7 productivity tips to save you as much of it as possible…and they can all be implemented in under one minute!

 

  • Flip your phone over. Glancing at notifications as they arrive on your phone doesn’t take much time, but it drains a ton of attention. Every time you notice a new alert you glance at it (which only takes a few seconds), but then you either waste time checking it or waste time re-focusing on what you were previously doing. Either way, this is a huge unproductive time-suck.

 

  • The two-minute rule. The moment an email comes in think, “can I respond to this in two minutes or less?” If responding to the email requires a simple yes or no and would need less time to respond than it would to remind yourself to do it later, then do it now. By doing this you’re effectively prioritizing your day and promoting efficiency for yourself and the sender.

 

  • The Rule Of Three. In almost all areas of life, the “rule of 3” applies, and productivity is no exception. Ask yourself at the beginning of the day, “what three things do I want to accomplish today?” Then work toward those goals. When making your list, try not to focus necessarily on tasks so much as outcomes or results.

 

  • Keep a list of everything you’re waiting on and everything you need to do. Keeping a list is the best way to keep up with everything you have to do/everything you’re waiting on other people to do. This may seem a bit obvious, but trying to keep up with everything you’re responsible for can be taxing to say the least and in a world filled with technology, it’s unnecessary to try. I suggest writing everything on a Post-It, putting it in an app on your phone/tablet or both.

 

  • Take more breaks. While we’re on the topic, take more breaks! It may sound counterproductive, but taking more breaks throughout the day actually increases productivity because it prevents fatigue and facilitates creativity. Even if you’re short on time, try simply standing up and looking away from the computer for a minute or two to give your brain a chance to refresh.

 

  • Get Physical. I know it’s early, but getting 30 minutes of physical activity in every morning before you start your day will give you the lasting energy you need to power through your day! No more “2:30 feeling” for you!

 

  • Delegate. Learning to delegate the tasks that can be delegated can be the single most valuable productivity measure you ever take. Just remember that you are ultimately responsible for the work that they do, so make sure they understand the task the first time around or you’ll be doing double the work in the end.

 

Have anything that you need to delegate? CAI’s HR On Demand team is designed to do just that! We’re here to provide exactly “what you need, when you need it” and can handle as much or as little of a project as you’d like. Have something we can help you with? Contact us today at (919) 713-5263 or molly.hegeman@capital.org.

 

Delivering Great New Employees – Part 2

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

In today’s video blog, CAI’s Vice President of Membership, Doug Blizzard, continues the conversation from his last video blog in which he discussed employer recruiting efforts. His tip to employers is to stay out in front of top talent long before you have an opening.

Doug mentions that there are many factors that can attract a job candidate to your company, such as career advancement or working with industry thought leaders. You may offer enticing employee benefits, but Doug asks, “Does anyone know about them?”

He offers up action items employers can take to make top job candidates aware of their company and the benefits offered. One of the many items he shared in the video included having your team members present at events or activities where top candidates in the specific industry you’re looking in hang out, such as associations or industry-related conferences.

Doug encourages employers to try the tips he shared in the video and see how they attract interest from quality job seekers. Make sure to look out for the third installment of this video series next month.

For additional recruiting tips, please call a member of our Advice and Resolution team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746. The team is now available 24 hours each day throughout the week! Please give us a call!

Promoting Positivity in the Workplace

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Many people seem to know the expressions “Negative Nancy” or “Debby Downer,” but negativity is not something that should be familiar in the workplace. A negative environment can lead to low performance, job and performance dissatisfaction, and low employee retention rates.

But how exactly do we eliminate negativity in the workplace? This may seem like a tricky question because ultimately we can only control ourselves, but therein lies the answer. Whether a senior executive or an entry-level employee, to eliminate negativity in the workplace, we must evaluate our own attitudes and behavior and the way we express our views to colleagues and employers.

Let’s examine a few areas where we can re-evaluate our attitudes:

Interactions with colleagues

  • Employee retention rates may have a lot to do with how happy employees actually are. It may seem obvious, but no one likes a person with a negative attitude or someone that is never happy with anyone at work. Whenever you interact with colleagues think about trying to stay positive and optimistic because a positive attitude is contagious. If people have positive interactions with you, then they are more likely to have a positive interaction with another colleague, thus spreading the attitude throughout the workplace.

 

  • Try to avoid gossip or exclusivity, because this can turn an office into a negative environment by isolating certain employees and spreading animosity for certain people. By encouraging others to remain positive through example, you will help reduce office gossip, exclusivity and ill feeling towards others.

One-on-ones with supervisors

  • Feedback is key to developing employees, yet feedback can be unproductive if it presented improperly. Positive feedback can be beneficial to both the person giving and receiving it. When presenting feedback, try to do so in a positive way. Tell employees what they are doing well and then present them with a few things they could be doing to improve performance instead of only telling them what they are doing wrong. By keeping the attitude positive, the employee feels hopeful and encouraged to perform well.

 

  • It is important to receive critical feedback in a positive way as well. Try to understand where your supervisor is coming from and offer ways that you could improve your work. If you are optimistic about how you can improve, then your supervisor will be too.

Job performance

  • When approaching your own work, a positive attitude can look like many different things, such as being confident in the task or challenge at hand, feeling optimistic with the effort you are putting forth or performing to the best of your ability to achieve the results you want. By having a positive attitude towards your own work, you can achieve the best results. If a negative attitude is encroaching on your work, figure out if your skill set is being used properly or if there is a way to approach the task differently.

A positive work environment starts with you. Positivity and happiness seem to be contagious, so the next time you overhear an employee gossiping or being negative, encourage them or offer them a positive view on the situation. Say goodbye to “Negative Nancy” and say hello to “Positive Polly.”

Photo Source: Glen Wright

Prepare for Difficult Conversations with Employees

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

In today’s video blog, Renee’ Watkins, HR Advisor on CAI’s Advice and Resolution team, shares how to have difficult conversations with employees by offering a few steps to follow when delivering difficult news.

Renee’ starts by explaining that the key to delivering bad news is to lead the conversation with respect and sensitivity. She then offers several steps to make these conversations positive and productive experiences.  Some examples Renee gave in the video include: be specific and avoid generalities, show employees your willingness to listen, and allow employees the opportunity to give their side.

She says having these difficult conversations will make the difference between success and failure for a valued employee. By following the steps in the video, you can improve the lives of many of your team members.

For more information on having difficult discussions with employees, or if you have any questions, call a member of our Advice and Resolution team today at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746. The team is now available 24 hours each day throughout the week! Please give us a call!

4 Wickedly Fun Ways to Celebrate Halloween with Your Employees

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Halloween in the officeSummer has faded away and now employees are welcoming fall!

With summer vacations behind them and their kids back in school, many employees start operating in serious work mode during this season. Keep their productivity high by helping them insert some fun and staff bonding throughout their work weeks. Halloween is a great holiday that encourages everyone to loosen up and enjoy spending time with coworkers and managers.

Try these four Halloween-themed activities at your organization to engage your employees during this fun and exciting time of year:

Have a pumpkin carving contest. Whether you carve them together at work or invite staffers to bring in their creations from home, a pumpkin carving contest is a creative and fun activity for all. Let team members vote on the best pumpkin in the office. You can give the winner a bucket of sweet treats or a gift card if you’re looking for healthier prize options.

Decorate the office to create a fun and spooky environment. Make the fun of Halloween last all of October by decorating your company’s building in fun and appropriate Halloween adornments. Filling dishes with candy corn, hanging purple and orange lights and placing cobwebs in office corners are just a few ideas. Use this opportunity as a bonding experience for your staff. Have fun and keep the atmosphere low key.

Throw a Halloween-themed employee appreciation party. Telling your employees how much you appreciate their contributions to you organization will never get old to them. Take advantage of this time of year and coordinate a fun, Halloween-themed party for your staff.

Treat your team to pumpkin spice lattes. Pumpkin flavor is back, and who can resist the ultimate taste of fall! Venture to Starbucks or another favorite coffee shop to pick up warm fall beverages for your team. The nice and simple gesture will help them feel appreciated and kick start their day in the most positive way.

The key is to have fun and make sure your employees feel appreciated for all their hard work throughout the year. For additional advice on employee engagement activities, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Resolution team at 919-878-9222 or 326-668-7746.

Photo Source: Amelia Extra

Make Time-Off Decisions Together

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

The following post is by Bruce Clarke, CAI’s CEO and President. The article originally appeared in Bruce’s News and Observer Column, The View from HR.

Bruce Clarke, President and CEO

Bruce Clarke, President and CEO

What could be wrong with time off from work? Plenty, if you are a manager trying to get things done, or an employee who cannot get time off for family issues.

Time-off problems generate phone calls to our HR advisers every day. Most of the problems come in three categories, each with an employee and employer viewpoint.

Do I have to?

Government regulations mandate time off in several dozen ways. No single requirement is back breaking, but their total weight causes employers to dread these regulated requests. The question often becomes, “Do I have to grant the time?” It depends.

Earned vacation is owed to the employee, and the only question is timing. An employer can deny its use at inconvenient times unless the vacation is to be used during a “family and medical leave” event. These FMLA requests give employees and their doctors so much power over timing that employee abuse is common, paid or unpaid. Even if laws like FMLA do not apply, sick day and personal day policies are common. Plus, everyone has a personal need now and then.

Help employees understand the business issues so that time off can be made to fit business and personal needs. Employees, if you will start out showing concern for business needs and some flexibility on timing, you will find the process is much smoother and more pleasant for all. It is rare that something has to happen on Monday morning, or on the busiest day of the month.

Everybody wants to be met halfway. (Emergencies are different.)

Do I want to?

If time off is discretionary, do you want to say “yes” to the employee for an inconvenient day off?

Managers might say “Yes to my best employees and no to my worst.” You can use some discretion, maybe rearranging work so a star can get a day off, but be sure you can defend that choice when the poor performer seeks the same. “Sally works exceptionally hard each day, and you do not” is what you may feel like saying, but refrain. Describe ways the employee can earn future approvals.

Employees who want time off or certain vacation days in this “discretionary zone” should bring a good plan for getting work done, a record of always doing so, or both. I have never met a manager who liked to say “no” to a personal request if it is reasonable and the employee always meets them halfway.

Should I?

Maybe no law requires it, and maybe the employee does not deserve it based on past behavior, but sometimes it is good business to grant that inconvenient time-off request.

You gain nothing by punishing an employee’s family, for example. Maybe you should have dealt with this poor performer more directly last month rather than indirectly punishing him or her through a time-off denial today.

Time-off conversations require adult behavior and open discussion. Approach your next one with that in mind.

 

Delivering Great New Employees – Part 1

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Doug Blizzard, CAI’s Vice President of Membership, kicks off his next series of blogs focused on recruiting great employees in today’s post. He begins by sharing a survey that found that delivering on recruiting had the biggest single impact of any HR activity on revenue and profit.

 

In the video, Doug challenges HR professionals by asking them how they are delivering on recruiting. He encourages them to ask their supervisors specific questions that will reveal how strong their company’s recruiting process is. Review the video for the specific questions to ask your team members.

 

Doug says at many companies the recruiting process is more like an administrative task designed for compliance than a process designed to recruit top candidates. He then lists several helpful tips to make everyone’s recruiting process better.

 

Look out for Part 2 of the series. Doug says he’ll be sharing more tips—some that are a little out of the box. If you’re interested in improving your recruiting process, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Resolution team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746. The team in now available 24 hours each day throughout the week! Please give us a call!

Daily Challenges In HR And How You Can Overcome Them

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

In today’s post Molly Hegeman, CAI’s Vice President of  HR Services, shares helpful information about focusing on your important projects and job duties.

Molly Hegeman, VP of HR Services

Molly Hegeman, VP of HR Services

One of the biggest challenges we face as HR professionals is prioritizing our time. We must balance our day-to-day responsibilities with the organization’s strategic initiatives as well as manage sudden and urgent employee relations issues. With all the responsibility on our plates it can be easy to lose sight of our priorities and remain focused on what’s really important. So how can we stay on track?

Keeping a constant reminder of the importance of employee engagement and satisfaction is paramount.  Engagement is the emotional commitment employees have to the organization and its goals, and their willingness to put forth effort toward its success. Satisfaction, on the other hand, represents an employee’s attitude and expectations about their job and employer. It’s more about how an employee approaches his/her job than the actual duties performed.

Over the past several years, CAI has seen an increase in the overall satisfaction of employees surveyed through its employee opinion surveys.  In fact, the greatest satisfaction level, at 88%, is in identification with the company.  Benefits and working conditions follow close behind at 86% and 84% respectively.

In HR, it is important for us to put time and energy into nurturing our culture and holding managers accountable for helping our employees remain engaged and satisfied.  In all our projects and ongoing HR initiatives we should:

  • help employees remain challenged in their jobs
  • help employees foster a sense of purpose in their roles
  • keep a positive and supportive attitude
  • encourage a balanced lifestyle
  • build strong and trustworthy relationships with co-workers and manager

So the question now is how to do all of these things?

The Rule of Three

In almost all areas of life, the “rule of 3” applies, and productivity is no exception. Ask yourself at the beginning of the day, “what three things do I want to accomplish today?” Then work toward those goals. When making your list, try not to focus necessarily on tasks so much as outcomes or results.

 

Keep a list of everything you’re waiting on and everything you need to do

Keeping a list is the best way to keep up with everything you have to do/everything you’re waiting on other people to do.This may seem a bit obvious, but trying to keep up with everything you’re responsible for can be taxing to say the least and in a world filled with technology, it’s unnecessary to try. Sticking with old school methods, I suggest writing everything on a Post-It or creating a To Do List format that works for you. Embracing technology, you could consider putting it in an app on your phone/tablet or both. Remember, there’s always an app for that!

 

Be clear on the intent and purpose of your activities rather than being distracted by less significant items

Leverage internal resources with the help of your strongest managers and employees, or seek outside support to bring in the resources needed to elevate your effectiveness and contributions to the organization. And most importantly, learn the power of delegation!

 

Looking to get a few things off your list? CAI’s HR On Demand team is designed to do just that! Is there something we can help you with? Please Contact us today at (919) 713-5263 or molly.hegeman@capital.org.

Leading Through a Crisis

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

In today’s post, Advice and Resolution team member Renee’ Watkins identifies poor leadership qualities and imparts information on how to rise above them during chaotic times.

Renee' Watkins, HR Advisor

Renee’ Watkins, HR Advisor

In the life of every business, there will be times when the organization will experience a crisis and the quality of its leadership will be tested. Strong, mature and experienced leadership during a crisis is certainly preferred. Poor leadership can quickly turn a crisis into a catastrophe. Even if the organization survives the crisis, the lasting effects of poor leadership can be felt long after the crisis is over.

Below are some of the behaviors that can define poor leadership, and how to overcome them:

Excessive Optimism

Being optimistic about solving a problem is all fine and good. However, some leaders are too optimistic that a problem will either solve itself over time or that someone else is handling it once it has been identified. Action is necessary to solve any problem and many problems cannot be solved overnight. Strong leadership involvement, with the ability to make decisions and take action, is necessary to demonstrate attention to any crisis.

Denial

Some leaders are under the false impression that a problem is not already well-known throughout the organization and if they deny its existence it will no longer be a problem. News, especially bad news, can spread through an organization like wildfire. Strong leaders never underestimate the intelligence of their employees. The best strategy in a crisis is to come forward and provide your employees with as much information as you can, reassuring them you are aware of the problem and have a plan for resolving it.

Trial and Error Is NOT a Crisis Strategy

This approach may work well in the development of a new product line or in the research end of your business. Some leaders use this strategy as a way to resolve a crisis. When finding themselves in a crisis scenario, strong leaders resist their first reaction and assemble a team of top management to work out a plan – quickly and efficiently. A clear direction with measurable results will keep your employees engaged and confident.

Ignore Common Sense

Over-reaction or panic can make a bad situation worse. When faced with crisis, our instincts are to fight or flee, neither of which will help. Seasoned leaders will simply slow-down, look objectively at the issues and apply simple common sense as to how to handle the problem. Common sense may be as simple as defining the problem in smaller, more manageable pieces or seeking the advice of peers.

Manage in a Vacuum

Poor leaders will sometimes try to solve a problem on their own without enlisting the help of others. This can spell disaster in a crisis. A strong leader recognizes when they need help and knows exactly what skills they need in a particular situation. The objective is not just to solve the problem, but to solve the problem in the best way possible. Many problems have multiple solutions and these must be vetted to determine which is best.

Blame Others

Leaders who spend more time blaming others and less time solving the problem simply appear weak to their employees. There will be plenty of time after the crisis is over to determine where the process failed and how to prevent it from happening again. Now is the time for strong leadership to assume responsibility and make themselves accountable for resolving the problem.

Cracking the Whip

Trimming expenses, cutting benefits or demanding more productivity are sometimes the reactions from poor leadership simply because they do not know what else to do and think this will somehow magically fix the problem. It is not likely the entire employee population caused the problem and they know that as well. Knee-jerk reactions will send a message of blame and uncertainty across the organization. Instead, hold meetings with employees to recognize the issue at hand and to stress that everyone is in this together and that together a solution will be found and implemented.

It can be lonely at the top, but it does not have to be. The most successful people surround themselves with other successful people. Recognize there are people who can help you in a crisis and never assume you know all the answers. Treat your employees as intelligent, hard-working people who have as much interest in the organization’s well-being as you do. Slow down, think clearly and apply common sense to any problem to make it more manageable. Strength does not always show itself as fast and loud. Often a calm and deliberate approach is the best way.

Favoritism in the Workplace Isn’t Always Bad

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

The following post is by Bruce Clarke, CAI’s CEO and President. The article originally appeared in Bruce’s News and Observer Column, The View from HR.

Bruce Clarke, President and CEO

Bruce Clarke, President and CEO

Most view favoritism as undeserved special treatment of an employee by a manager.

“My manager has favorites” is a common concern. It is demoralizing to watch a co-employee be showered with special treatment when you know the individual spends more time on Facebook than on workbook.

Favoritism has a bad reputation. Every workplace would be better off if managers had more favorites. Here’s why.

Too much of the time, managers spend their day dealing with the 5 percent or 10 percent of their staff that cause problems, have problems or are problems. Performance issues, abuse of time off, interpersonal conflicts, time wasting, repeated instructions, petty complaints and so on make for a hard day and waste a lot of time. In a way, these are really a manager’s set of favorites if you judge favoritism by time spent.

Why not look at favoritism as building, rewarding and mentoring the top 25 percent of the workforce? Yes, I mean the people who show each day that they are there for the right reasons and, given a moderate amount of help to understand their role and how to grow, they learn and perform.

I am suggesting that managers make a list of their favorites and develop individual plans to reward and grow these favorites. Special employees should be treated in special ways. These are the ones that deserve your flexibility and advocacy for pay raises. Most important, they are the ones that truly deserve your TIME.

There is nothing more important you can give rising stars or high performers than your time. Do you know their career goals? Do they know what options are open internally? Do both of you have a plan to get them there? Do you even know why they stay with the organization and how to keep that glue sticky? Ask. Set aside time just for these conversations.

A good way to start is the one question meeting. “Tell me how I can help you get to where you want to be in this role and in future roles here at MegaCompany.” Let the conversation go where it needs to go. This is the employee’s meeting. Some will quickly tell you a specific plan or maybe they have considered leaving to reach that plan elsewhere. You will obtain a wealth of good information for your plan to make them the right kind of favorite.

Employees: if your manager is too busy on the wrong favorites, set up a time to meet for the purpose of discussing your role and your growth in the workplace. Make it very positive and focused on both better results for your team and better results for you. Develop a regular conversation with your manager around proactive problem prevention, efficiency and results.

I have to bring up this last point. Somebody is thinking, “But I have to treat everyone the same, right?” Wrong. You must avoid discrimination for unlawful reasons, but you are a malpracticing manager if you treat every employee the same regardless of his or her contribution and effort. Your best employees deserve your best, and that means special treatment in pay, smart policy exceptions and your TIME.

What’s the worst that can happen? Maybe other employees will see how to become your favorite and deserve the same special status!